Beginning in 1957 and ending in 1975, the Vietnam War was America's longest war and her first military failure on foreign soil. Even twenty-five years later, the Vietnam War era is a difficult and complicated subject, both emotionally and historically. For this Memorial Day, I've chosen five Vietnam War Web sites appropriate for both high school students and their parents.
"The Vietnam War ended when the Communists took Saigon. The end of the war left questions and issues that are still unanswered and unresolved. Vietnam ... a noble cause? a shameful venture? This television series [and Internet site] look back at a hard chapter in American history. Two and one-half million Americans fought in Vietnam and 58,000 Americans died there. Why? " This outstanding PBS site includes video clips from the TV series, a time line, maps, commentary, and primary source material such as presidential correspondence.
Battlefield Vietnam, also a PBS site, focuses on three military topics: Guerrilla Tactics, Air War and The Siege at Khe Sanh. "Khe Sanh was one of the most remote outposts in Vietnam, but by January 1968, even President Lyndon Johnson had taken a personal interest in the base. With Khe Sanh facing a full-scale siege by the North Vietnamese Army, the question was being asked: Should the base be held, or should it be quietly abandoned?"
"Shortly after the North Vietnamese launched an aggressive military campaign in 1968, President Johnson recommended the halt of the bombing of North Vietnam. Five years later, President Nixon signed the cease fire agreement ending U.S. military involvement in Vietnam." This collection of twenty articles from the New York Times archive is enriched with audio clips, maps, a photo slide show, an interactive quiz and lesson plans for teachers.
"This site does not try to document the entire history of the Vietnam War but is intended as a picture essay, illustrating some of the incredible conditions under which soldiers from both sides lived, fought, played and ultimately died." Created by Swedish researcher Peter Leuhusen, this site features the compelling war photography of Tim Page. The photos are divided into Machines, Faces, Hippies, Under Fire and Life & Sorrow. Thumbnails of the entire collection can be found under Site Map.
"The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was initially conceived with one overriding purpose -- to bring long overdue honor and recognition to the men and women who served and sacrificed their lives in Vietnam. Because so many veterans met with ridicule and contempt upon returning home, it was hoped that the Memorial would he a place where that injustice could at long last be rectified." Now The Wall That Heals has come to the Web. Via the Virtual Wall, you can view the Memorial panel by panel. And best of all, you can zoom in to a specific veteran to add an audio, photo or written remembrance. Wow!